New Legislation Would Make Companies Inform Customers When Calls Outsourced Outside U.S.

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Staff Writer

Ever wonder if the customer service call center at the other end of your phone is located in the U.S., or what foreign country it is located in if outside of the U.S.?

Newly proposed legislation would make companies inform customers when their calls are being transferred outside the United States and charge companies for those transferred calls in an effort to maintain call center jobs currently in the United States and provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced call center jobs to bring them back.

According to a press release on Senator Charles E. Schumer’s (D-NY) website, the new legislation would require companies that transfer calls to foreign call centers to disclose to the caller that their call is being transferred to a particular country. The disclosure requirement would also force companies to annually certify to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that they are fully complying with this requirement or otherwise be subject to civil penalties that the FTC would prescribe.

In addition, since 800 numbers are often transferred overseas without the caller’s knowledge, the bill would impose a $0.25 excise tax on any customer service call placed inside the United States which is then transferred to an agent in a foreign location, with the fee being assessed on the company that transferred the call.

While the bill’s major aim would be to reduce the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, another benefit could be greater protection against identity theft, since the personally identifying information (PII) of American consumers — such as names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and financial information — would not be offshored as often to call centers in foreign countries beyond the reach of U.S. identity theft and privacy laws.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) — a member of Concerned CRAs, a group of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA) concerned that certain data practices place the personal information of consumers at risk — does not outsource domestic background screening services outside of the U.S. in order to protect the PII contained in background screening reports. ESR believes that sending such personal information offshore places both applicants and employers at risk and should be avoided when possible. If PII is sent to countries outside the U.S., applicants and employers should be made aware of this practice. 

For more information on personally identifiable information, offshoring, and identity theft, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at